Once in a while

Every once in a while, the day opens its gaping maw and tries to swallow you whole.

Every once in a while, both kids wake up two hours before dawn and cannot be coaxed back to sleep.

And they spend the morning bickering, screaming, and returning every effort at engagement or conciliation with a vengeance.

And pulling the orange juice out of the fridge to make a smoothie knocks a lid-askew jar of salsa onto the floor. And the toddler wants to help clean up with a patented finger painting technique.

And the eldest child responds to every question, request, or statement with a surliness worthy of a teenager forced to get up at 6am on a Saturday.

And you leave for school without lunches or water. And return, cheerfully, but find that the cat has vomited in front of the fridge.

And the toddler doesn’t want to walk or be carried or ride to school. He wants to lie down and watch traffic. From the edge of the curb.

And your phone didn’t charge the night before.

And the landlord wants to raise your rent and talk about it right as you’re dropping off the eldest and convincing the youngest that he can’t stay on the playground after the bell rings.

And your resident Cynic and Critic and Brain Voice come visiting with a slew of arguments against your worth as a human being.

And it’s right, at least, about your clothes not fitting any more.

And the toddler falls several times, reacts apoplectically to every situation, but refuses to nap.

And screams himself into a rage because you a)need a shower, b)dare to take one, and c)protect him from climbing into the sink for his favorite soap squirting project by bringing the stepstool into the shower with you.

And the walk to lure him into the stroller (and a default nap) fails because he refuses, REFUSES to get in but instead, every time you say “walk, please, or sit”, he gleefully sits on the ground.

And so your compromise of stoller-nap and exercise is shot to hell.

And your eldest greets you at pickup with a sour puss and a demand for variously outrageous things.

And the toddler and his brother spend the afternoon screaming “no” at every suggestion or game or dance party or knife-throwing contest you offer.

And they both want to help with dinner but spill so much on the floor you banish them from the kitchen, against your principles and heart’s best intentions.

And you realize you’ve become your mother.

And the toddler drags the stepstool over to the counter where you’re using 1)a kitchen knife, 2)a cheese grater, and 3) boiling water.

And you cry.

And he knocks down a bottle of soy sauce.

And runs into the living room and pees on the rug.

And you serve dinner that everyone refuses to eat.

And bath lasts 20 seconds because they’re both crying that they’re hungry.

And the knock at the door is a college student selling a cause you believe in but whose website you will now hack and occupy in righteous anger.

And there’s no yogurt in the house. And the toddler throws the container of hummus against the wall with the grandparents’ pictures.

And you sit patiently as they both take over an hour to fall asleep.

And your favorite show is not on. No reason except, presumably, that the networks have been listening to your resident Cynic and Critic and Brain Voice, and, as a result quite reasonably hate you.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve had one of these days. I’m just saying they happen. Once in a while.

21 thoughts on “Once in a while

    • Welcome, Ninja Mom! Glad you laughed, because if I can somehow keep other moms off the hard booze at least one night a week, I feel I’ve helped the world. Superhero or Superpathetic…you be the judge.

  1. These are the days you mentally file away for the days that are merely boring so you can remind yourself to be grateful since things could be worse. :-)

    • Matt, I just adore you. Every time you make me smile, you’re proof that there are some bright-side, silver-lining people who don’t make me feel stabby. ;-)

    • Mad Woman, I appreciate the solidarity.

      And in your comment lies the truth of working outside the home vs. full-time parenting: we all have the same sh*t to handle…for some it’s stretched out over a painful day and for some it’s compressed into a few excruciating hours. It’s like 24-hour labor vs. 3-hour labor. Same number of muscle fibers, same amount of compression and stretching and expulsion. Same terrifying subsequent 20 years.

      Does anyone talk about which is harder: the hurdles or the half marathon. Nope. They all just ice and massage and grimace and increase protein for a few days. Different situation, same pain.


      I guess I need an egg white omelet now?

  2. Wish I could say more than: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

    Hang in there and remember that they leave for college some day.

    (Sorry for fake e-mail address…couldn’t post with my real one, for some reason.)

    • HI, Kate. The not being alone thing only helps if other people are spiraling out of control in my living room. Because then they can distract my kids.

      No worry on the fake email address. WordPress has been weird lately about logging in for comments, and I’ve given several phony addresses on other blogs this week.

  3. When these days happen, and they do, I ramble on to myself in a borderline psychotic panic as I’m chopping onions while children scramble screaming at my pant legs under hot frying pans with burning food making the chopped onions useless as there is no edible food in which to add them so I have to make a phone call to order greasy take out and make a mental note to berate myself for not fueling my children nutritiously while also attempting self love as I did have the best intentions for a green, colorful, balanced organic dinner. This ramble varies, but always sounds something like:

    “It wasn’t like this yesterday, right?  It wasn’t. No, it wasn’t, was it? No. I really don’t think it was. This isn’t every day. We had a lovely day yesterday, didn’t we? Tomorrow is a new day. New day. New day. When is bed time?  And where the hell is the delivery guy?!”

    • Ah, Emily. I’m so sorry that you get it…the chopping for something that’s already burned breaks my heart because it happens so often. I have to cook pancakes, french toast…anything that needs attention…after they go to bed to serve the next morning. Because everything gets burned if I actually parent. And I have to, because otherwise we’ll have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the E.R.

      My mantra on these days is “bedtime is soon…bedtime is soon…bedtime is soon.” even if it’s not. Because, really, even 12 hours is soon on a day like this.

  4. Right there with you, friend, although you win Worst Day Award because we don’t have a cat to vomit in front of the fridge.


  5. Loved your post. We often have nights like this. It’s funny how the 4-month old is soooo much easier than the 2-yr old. Everything is a fight including going to school…I try to explain that mommy & daddy have to go to work and you have to go to school, but it only results in her holding onto the car seat for dear life. Then I finally had to do something I promised myself I would never do – offer a handful of goldfish if she goes to school. I know, terrible, but I can’t deal with an explosive tantrum every morning. Thank goodness for goldfish!

    • Andrea, I can’t imagine having a newborn and a 2-year-old. It was hard enough having a newborn and a 4-year-old. At least we had the tricks and games to get clothes on by then.

      I think we’re lucky that we get to walk to school because the 2-year-old will join us. Often barefoot without jacket in 40 degree weather, but he’ll at least walk out the door. Once he feels the cold, he usually acquiesces to clothing. When he doesn’t, nothing says “put on your pants” like an organic fruit strip.

      I don’t know anyone with two kids who hasn’t bribed a child into a car seat with food. Especially while they’re still sitting backwards. Rear-facing toddlers don’t sit down. It’s as though they have north-north magnetic repulsion between butt and seat.

  6. Ah yes, you’re bringing back to the crazy days….my boys are 10 months apart in age and my husband and daughter thought it was so great when they “taught” #1son how to crawl just before #2son was born. When they started training session with #1son to further along his walking skills I almost gouged their eyes out with scissors. I was just getting the hang of the rhythm of snatching one thing out of one boy’s hands while chasing the other and blocking him from crawling into certain danger. And they wanted to increase the speed? Crazy.

  7. Jane, I think scissored eyelessness was too good for them. Something with skinlessness and vinegar sounds more appropriate for HellMakers like yours. ;-)

  8. I hate those days. The count-down-to-bedtime days. The I-really-want-to-change-the-clocks-to-an-earlier-time days. Sometimes parenting sucks.

  9. Hmmmmm… Last night I burned dinner because I was breaking up a knock down drag out fight between thing one and thing two. My oldest screaming I could only be punishing him because I hate him. My youngest screaming that he’s going to die. And me crying in the corner because I have no idea what they are going to eat for dinner now and I hope and pray I can come up with something, anything before they get over hungry and really get cranky.
    So yes, I’ve been there! So good to know that others out there are going to crazy town with me :)

  10. Hi, Faemom. It does. Sometimes. And I hate that.

    Brotherly Love, that makes me cry, too. I can handle the interruptions. I can handle the fights. I can handle the “I hate you!”s. I can’t handle the lost dinner because the above three conspire to burn it.

    For future reference, that’s when mine get cheese sticks, apple, hummus, and pretzels. And when they only eat pretzels I. Don’t. Care. because I’m too busy crying and fighting the urge to drink.

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